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Support our Open Letter to the BBC

Laura Kuenssberg speaking on the BBC on July 10, 20191th 2022

CAMPAIN invites you to sign THIS OPEN LETTER. It challenges the way the BBC has handled allegations of rampant antisemitism in the Labour left, showing that it has been failing to fulfill its mandate in this regard. We make a series of evidence-based assertions and invite the Director General of the BBC to respond to each of them.

We would like as many people on board as possible. You can sign both as an individual or in the name of a specific organisation that you represent.

The letter reflects widespread anger at the BBC’s portrayal of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, particularly after the Panorama documentary “Is Labour Antisemitic?” screened just five months before the general election of 2019. Ken Loach described it as:

“probably the most disgusting programme I’ve ever seen on the BBC. It raised the horror of racism in the most atrocious propagandistic way, with crude journalism, and it bought the propaganda from people who were intent on destroying Corbyn”.

There is likewise much disquiet about the Labour Party’s purge of Corbyn supporters since the election, well documented in the Al Jazeera “Labour Files” documentaries but little reported in the mainstream media, and particularly the BBC.

So why is CAMPAIN organising this Open Letter?

We are a relatively young group that started in 2021, but have one crucial advantage i.e. we are not aligned with the Labour left or any other political tendency, and can confidently speak on behalf of a wide range of people who object to gross misrepresentation in our public affairs – regardless of who is being targeted.

And what do we expect to achieve?

The BBC has a long record of resisting (many would say stonewalling) complaints on this topic, so there is no way that we can guarantee a meaningful response. However, we see the Open Letter as the first step in a long game.

We shall analyse the BBC’s responses, and non-responses, to each of the points raised, and accordingly, plan our second round of campaigning. If we find an open door, we shall seek fruitful dialogue with the BBC, but if we encounter a tin ear, we shall up the ante and draw public attention to the problem through other means. Those who pay the BBC license fee and who care about the BBC’s stated commitment to being objective and impartial cannot simply stand by while it summarily dismisses well-reasoned concerns.

Other failings of the BBC

Quite apart from misrepresenting Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, the BBC has been performing poorly in some other areas. In this regard, the former BBC journalist Patrick Howes takes it to task for failing to shine a light on Brexit, saying that:

"The problems inherent in Brexit - the huge economic harm, the political and diplomatic damage, and the non-existent benefits - are all starting to break through into voters' consciousness. Inevitably, questions will now start to be heard louder and louder about the BBC's coverage of this unfolding disaster over the past six years".

"That questioning will focus on why the BBC chose to appease its enemies in the Government rather than telling the truth about them, and the closeness of senior figures in the corporation's hierarchy with the Conservative Party".

The BBC's handling of this topic contrasts with the analysis by the Financial Times, which showed that Brexit has been immensely damaging to our economy and the hopes of the young, at least in the way it has been implemented by Conservative governments.

Howes also points to the case of Emily Maitlis, who left the BBC in 2022, “part of a hemorrhaging of talent at all levels during the past twelve months”, while he complains of some other BBC journalists “parroting of government propaganda” about asylum seekers.

These observations suggest that the misrepresentation of the Labour left is part of wider problems at the BBC. The institution still has much to commend but requires radical reform if it is to uphold its Charter in terms of impartiality and accuracy.

We're steering clear of legal disputes

Some people have personally criticised the maker of the Panorama Documentary, John Ware, only to find themselves on the end of expensive lawsuits. By contrast, our Open Letter avoids invective against individuals of a kind likely to lead to legal proceedings, but simply invites the Director General of the BBC to respond to a series of evidence-based assertions about the way it has fulfilled, or rather not fulfilled, its mandate.


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